Niall Quinn leaving Sunderland role for ‘family and business interests’
THE former Republic of Ireland international, who as chairman put together the Drumaville consortium which backed Sunderland's return to the Premier League, and then persuaded American tycoon Ellis Short to take over, today announced he is to end his involvement as director of international development.
Quinn stepped aside as Sunderland chairman last year to focus on increasing the club's international profile but is now decided to quit the club with immediate effect.
"I've had the most amazing six years and it gives me a huge sense of pride to see where Sunderland is today," Quinn said.
"Sunderland is in an incredibly fortunate position to have a hugely talented team of people leading the football club right now.
"There is a tremendous amount of energy about the place and the board and the executive management team are a dynamic and committed group, who hold the best interests of the club at the core of all they do.
"Everything is in place for Sunderland to really make a statement, which was always my aim.
Quinn cited bringing in manager Martin O'Neill earlier in the season as "an absolute highlight" and is confident that the Northern Irishman "will harness the immense passion that exists here and take us to new heights".
The former Sunderland striker said he will still get that same "knot" in his stomach before every game but will always get a feeling of pure elation if results continue to go well on the pitch.
Chairman Ellis Short said: "Niall Quinn is and always will be a Sunderland legend. His vision brought me into the club and that vision still inspires what we do.
"His hard work laid down the foundations that we are now building on and the vision and drive he showed both in those early days and indeed in recent times as he focused on our international development, particularly in Africa, should never be underestimated.
"We fully understand his desire to take a back seat now and to concentrate on his own life and interests away from football and he deserves that opportunity."
Meanwhile, local MP David Miliband has offered his own tribute to former Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn following his decision to leave the club.
The Black Cats today announced the 45-year-old Irishman had stood down from his post as director of international development to concentrate on his family and business interests after a six-year stint in the Boardroom at the Stadium of Light.
South Shields MP and former Foreign Secretary Miliband, the club's vice-chairman, paid tribute to Quinn's contribution on Wearside.
Writing in his blog on his official website, www.davidmiliband.net, he said: "I first saw Niall Quinn from the terraces at Highbury. He's still a giant in everything he does.
"He has put so much into the club over the last six years. He always said he wouldn't put so much in only to see it ebb away - but now he feels his investment is safe and wants to move on.
"One has to respect the class of the man. As he says in his moving statement announcing his departure, he was taken on trust in 2006 and the fans took him to their hearts - even when things weren't going right.
"But with Martin O'Neill in post, there is a massive football brain guiding the club on the field.
"The owner has provided stability and nous in the Boardroom, so Niall feels his work is done - and his family and other interests deserve more of him.
"I am sure we haven't heard the last of Niall Quinn. He'd make a formidable politician.
"The good thing is that his legacy to the club are vision and values that are true to the history of the area and the passion of the fans.
"It won't be squandered."
There was appreciation too from the playing staff with defender Titus Bramble offering his personal thanks to Quinn via Twitter.
Bramble said: "Sad to see Niall leave the club, but I'd like to say a big thank you for everything he's done for me. He's been really good to me since the day I signed.
"He's turned the club round and got us heading in the right direction."
Midfielder David Meyler also tweeted: "Like to say thanks to Niall Quinn for everything he has done for me since I came here. Great man and great servant to SAFC absolute legend."